Friday, 25 October 2013

NGO adds teeth to anti-witchcraft bill

Posted By: Kame Daima, Admin BODOLAND
                                                              Editor’s Message

              Few years ago, as I was strolling one evening off the Marina Beach of Chennai, I was stunned to meet a couple from Golaghat district for their “extraordinariness”. They were newly married, and in reply they told me that they are on their honeymoon. I repeat extraordinary because they not only talked in broken Bodo, but the lady was in her dokhona. It made me ashamed because I was with my sister who was one of the active members of the central AABWF. But I never talked to her about it later.
         It tinged me for a long time and I had a divided opinion on why some of us so adverse to our own culture and upbringing. It took not so longer to get the root causes behind when I made one of my friends who defined it in this way:
   “I start talking in Bodo whenever I meet people from other community, and if that man is a bit comfortable, I finish with my tongue.”
      It is what he had a love for his own upbringing. I have no idea how many non-Bodos use our language, but to be frank, in many parts of our Baksa district they communicate in the language that we use. Some of them are now using Bodo as their means of communication at their home. They even have got a full assimilation to the very fabrics of our community, and these are not by threat or condition but by and cultural exchange inter-marriages to some extent. This is what they love doing it.
     Recently, reliable reports tell about some youths from parts of Udalguri districts using scissors and blades to discipline the astray girls and boys for using offensive dresses. Though we can not estimate the wrath and reaction it brings on the victim and fans, examples are there to adhere to their own choices and never to marry a Bodo!!!
     Time has come to decide and take a constructive decision to reassess the reality, and it should be not to harness a donkey in dry fields. Parents and student bodies should play a pivotal role for the upkeep and upbringing of children’s culture and tradition. Religious institutions’ role would make it more enhancing. Even implementing Bodo code of dress and assembly session in our language in schools and colleges will bring about a satisfying result.
     We have to re-organize the Bodo Cultural Afad on sound footing and with the sole aim of uplifting our culture and tradition. Contradictions if any should be avoided. The Bodos from the heartland of Bodoland should shoulder this role and show a model example. Will and heart should be put together for that.
     I wonder of that marginalized Bodo couple from Golaghat who put me on shame. They convey a message to love our culture and tradition. We owe a great to them with reverence. 

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NGO adds teeth to anti-witchcraft bill

Jorhat, Oct. 23: Brothers, a socio-welfare organisation, which has been demanding a special act to curb witch-hunts in Assam, has come up with eight clauses for inclusion in the proposed draft bill.
Dibyajyoti Saikia, secretary-general of the organisation, said they would submit the document to Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi, 15 days before the winter session. He said the Assam government was also preparing a draft bill to be placed during the session and hoped the joint effort would yield a strong anti-witchcraft act.
“Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand already have separate state laws against witch-hunting but there is no central act to govern all the states. Different states have enacted legislation, as it is perceived that slight differences regarding the causes of witch-hunts require the laws to be state-specific to tackle these differences. Hence, we are seeking a special act for Assam,” he said.
Saikia said the clauses put forth by them include stringent punishment for both the accused witch hunters and those who assume to be “blessed with extra powers of healing or acted possessed and targeted innocent people”.
The clauses include one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 for those who act as “seers” or indulge in black magic or quacks and imprisonment for three to six years and a fine of Rs 15,000 for those who torture or drive out people from their homes after branding them witches. The NGO has also proposed life sentence and fine of Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000 to those who brand people witches and kill them.
The other clauses include protection for people who go into areas with high incidence of witch-hunting and prevalence of superstitious beliefs, compulsory awareness programmes by education, health and social welfare departments and suspension of policemen for dereliction of duty when they fail to protect innocent persons and fail to arrest the culprits.
Saikia said representatives from organisations, who were working to dispel ignorance among the people, faced a great risk, since people under the influence of superstitious beliefs often get carried away by mass hysteria and could harm or kill those who come between them and their targets. “Even police become helpless spectators then. For instance, Ritamoni Doley had to flee with her husband to her parents’ house from Bahphala in Jorhat district after being branded a witch. Even the police fear to go in alone and make arrests and there is nobody to ensure the safety of Doley and her husband,” he said.
He blamed the health, education and social welfare departments for not taking up measures to dispel superstition among the people despite having adequate funds.
In a related incident, residents of Shikari Gaon in Majuli conducted a purification rite today for people branded as witches by a teenaged boy recently. A major tragedy was averted around a fortnight ago when Brothers and another social activist, Birubala Rabha, arrived in the village to stop the witch-hunt.
Lakhimpur, Majuli, Goalpara and Nalbari are some of the areas, where incidents of witch-hunting have resulted in killings.

The blogger is a software analyst, teacher, social activist and a freelancer and writes about socio-economic, cultural and political issues of the tribes of northeast India. He can be reached in and his mobile number is +919954232936
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Result of the last week:
Are Bodos in need of a new student organization? Your opinion?
A. Yes
  1 (9%)

B. No
  8 (72%)

C. Never now
  3 (27%)

D. It may bring another clash amongst Bodos
  2 (18%)

E. It is a must for development of Bodos
  0 (0%)

F. ABSU has failed to meet its commitment
  0 (0%)

G. Can not say
  0 (0%)

H. It is only for benefit of tainted leaders
  3 (27%)

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